Electrogenic Porsche 911

Electrogenic 911 2023 001 panning
Oxfordshire-based firm’s electric conversion kit for 911s of a certain age adds plenty of power and range

Think what you like about ‘electromodded’ classic cars; love them or hate them, there is definitely demand for them – and it’s taken North Oxfordshire’s conversion specialist Electrogenic to what you might call the second phase of its expanding business model.Having spent five years doing bespoke conversions of cars as different as a Citroen DS, Daimler Majestic Major, Reliant Kitten and TVR Cerbera, then, the firm is now acting as a supplier of ‘electrification swap’ kits to be fitted by any one of a number of independent garage partners around the world.North America clearly loves the idea of an electrified classic, by the look of Electrogenic’s growing network of fitters; California especially. But there’s interest in them much more widely, particularly from younger customers who want to own and drive something ‘classic’, but don’t feel expert enough to be able to look after an ageing combustion engine.While it’ll continue to do a small number of bespoke EV conversions every year at its Kidlington HQ, then, Electrogenic’s main business has just become the construction and supply of ‘electromodification’ – or R-EV – kits for three classic cars in particular: post-1983 Land Rover Defenders, Jaguar E-Types, and both G-Series and ‘964’ generations of the Porsche 911.Other kits will follow as the company learns via its bespoke conversions business. The kits can be specified either to retain the original manual transmission of the donor car, or to replace the whole driveline; they have battery capacities of between 43- and 93kWh, depending on the car in question; and they include DC rapid charging compatibility at up to 50kW.There are two EV kits offered for the Porsche. The less powerful and expensive one, as tested here, is designed for a broadly comparable performance level as the standard car, and to add about 120kg to the Porsche’s overall kerbweight; the idea being that you can fit it without necessarily uprating the car’s suspension or braking. Electrogenic calls this the ‘E62’ kit (215bhp, 229lb ft, circa-5.0-sec to 60mph).There’s an ‘E62S’ kit as well, which takes power to 322bhp, but Electrogenic wouldn’t recommend fitting it without wider upgrades. Both kits are best considered component parts of wider-ranging restoration programmes that your particular fitter might be undertaking on your car in parallel.Electrogenic’s conversion kit includes everything necessary either to convert the 911’s existing instruments for EV-specific information (so the transformation remains a more subtle one, easier to reverse at a later stage if necessary) or to replace them. Our test car retained its clocks, but repurposed them: so the fuel level dial would instead indicate remaining battery capacity, the oil temp gauge motor temperature (it’s water-cooled), the oil pressure gauge battery regeneration energy, et cetera. I’m not sure you need a motor speed gauge as well as a speedometer; but I can see why 911 owners would want to keep the car’s original clocks.The Porsche’s wider cabin is untouched save for a rotary drive selector knob where the manual shift lever might be. You get to keep the occasional rear seats; but you’ll also need them for baggage because, up front, the car’s 62kWh drive battery entirely fills the ‘frunk’ space.The weight of that battery pack rebalances the 911’s famously rearward-biased weight distribution, of course: something which, in theory, could have a positive effect on one or two of the car’s handling characteristics. For reasons we’ll come to, though, I’m not so sure it actually does. But this car certainly drives like a pretty effective conversion, well capable of satisfying owners who just want to get their cars out on the road more often – and want to be able to continue to do so in a motoring world that might soon start moving beyond fossil fuels. Rather predictably, it’s missing some classic 911 charisma and soul – but it’s by no means boring.Opting to remove the car’s old manual transmission is clearly one way in which you’re also removing a route to driver engagement; but it also means you just turn the knob to ‘D’ and squeeze the accelerator to move off. The electric motor offers lots of smooth, accessible low-speed zip and thrust, and more motor energy regeneration at low speeds than high (although Electrogenic can include manual controls for this if you prefer).Outright performance is strong: particularly so up to about 60mph, where it puts this ‘964’ on a par with plenty of modern twin-motor EVs. Above 60mph, while there’s still plenty of power, you can feel the electric motor’s power and torque tailing off a little – but only at speeds at which few are likely to drive forty-year-old classic cars. The takeaway here is, for the vast majority of Porsche owners, an Electrogenic EV conversion will feel like as large a step up on accessible pace for their car as is delivered on easy drivability.The trade-off? That, for audible character and drama, there’s clearly no comparison to be made here to a well-maintained Porsche boxer engine howling away at revs. The electric motor isn’t silent, however – and Electrogenic makes no misguided digital attempt either to disguise or augment it. The electric motor is what it is: a little plain and toneless, granted – but far from flat or clinical. It’s a constituent part, in fact, of a driving experience that is still quite physical, communicative, vivid and ‘analogue’-feeling – even without a petrol engine. For starters, putting a quarter-tonne of batteries into the front of a 911 certainly gives your forearms a workout. There’s that amount of weight carried by a front axle which may not have power-assisted steering to consider. G-Series 911s didn’t; most 964s did, but in our test car the rack’s effectively unassisted in any case. There’s also the fact that the increasing popularity of ‘the RS look’ on older 911s makes it quite common to fit wider Fuchs-style alloy wheels to cars like our test car, which itself adds steering weight.Electrogenic can add a column-mounted electromechanical power steering system as part of their swap kit; and I’d definitely have it – because without it, your perception of the extra weight that has been added will be all the greater. 120kg isn’t all that much; but, because of where it sits, its influence on the 911 can feel disproportionate when you’re working hard to get the car through a tight corner, or if you have to correct its cornering attitude quickly and smoothly at faster speeds (there are no electronic stability aids here).There’s a compromise, too, on the Porsche’s body control, as our photographs confirm; I’d call it significant. though not especially punitive. This does feel like a 911 that’s approaching the structural limits of the weight that its chassis can bear. There’s a degree of brittleness in how it rides, and of unchecked roll and unwelcome inertia in how it handles when you examine the car’s adhesive limits. Neither would stop you from enjoying driving it at everyday speeds, though.With all that accessible torque and no electronic governance, I’d certainly want a mechanical limited slip differential in the car. As it is, Electrogenic’s kit doesn’t include one, and that means it’s a little too easy to spin up an inside rear wheel when you’re driving out of a bend, even in dry conditions. In the wet, I imagine this could get quite frustrating; not that owners of classic 911s tend to do a lot of miles in slippery conditions. The company says it will offer an LSD soon, however.Once it does, there seems little reason to question the thoroughness of the engineering that Electrogenic is offering in this car. If it’s an electrified classic 911 that you want, this one seems well executed and thought out. It doesn’t come free of dynamic compromises; but as a ‘plug and play’ solution that uses only available space in the car, and leaves the chassis uncut and unmolested should you want to reverse the conversion later on, it’s a smart way to experiment with a new lease of life for your beloved old Porsche.Would I have one? In this case, I’ll pass. I’d sooner believe in a future that makes room for as many classic 911s as possible which retain their original combustion-engined driving experiences, perhaps burning synthetic fuel – however infrequently.I can think of plenty of other classic sports cars, saloons and GTs that I’d have ‘electromodified’ with a much clearer conscience; and I dare say there can’t be many smarter or more cost-effective ways to have them done than this. But a Porsche flat six seems, to me at least, too important and character-defining a touchstone for a 911 to be without. Until Weissach itself decides differently – which, before long, it’s sure to do, of course – that’ll remain good enough for me.
Source: Autocar

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